Archive | Flowers and Plants

Annual, perennial and interesting flowers with advice on culture, information, tips and recommended varieties

Trees Near Buildings

The UK is experiencing a significant drought following a very wet spring. Trees were encouraged to put on extra foliage and they are now regretting the extra moisture they need to transpire. This is leading to more cracks in the surface soil and could lead to permanent damage.

Trees take up large volumes of water during summer. Shrinking and swelling of clay soils can be a concern but trees 30 feet from buildings should not be a major concern. However it is wise to avoid large vigorous and thirsty trees like Oak, Poplar and Willow.

Root Damage

  • Main roots are usually confined to the top 3 feet of soil
  • Shrubs and climbers are seldom implicated in root damage.
  • Swelling trunks close to buildings may squeeze against structures.
  • Root size and extent is variable dependant on species.They seldom penetrate well maintained drains but vulnerable drains should be repaired.
  • Roots radiate irregularly seeking moisture and nutrient. They may spread two to three times the height of the tree.

Subsidence & Structural Damage

  • Older buildings with shallow foundations are more vulnerable.
  • Soils other than shrinkable clay do not swell and contract as much as other soil and seldom cause damage.
  • The side of a building nearest the tree can settle due to its weight in dry soil causing cracked masonry, distorted doors and windows.
  • Fences, hedges and boundary walls may be damaged by proximity.
  • Paths can be lifted by robust roots.
  • Wind damage to trees may make them structurally unsafe.

General Tree Issues

  • A tree is the responsibility of the landowner who may be liable for any damage it causes.
  • Check with the local planning authority to establish if a tree has a ‘Tree Preservation Order’. They should also know if the garden is in a designated conservation order whose objective is to conserve landscape and public spaces in an area.
  • Trees have atendency to grow larger than you originally intended. They can block out light through your windows, shade gardens and over hang into your neighbors garden.
  • If you need to remove a large tree be aware that the large volume of water it previously transpired will remain in the ground and may lift the water table, swell the soil and cause ‘heave’ or displacement.
  • Gutters and roofs may suffer from leaf litter.
  • Surface roots and suckers can be invasive.

Further Tree Safety Tips

  • Think about the future life and nature of your tree before planting or starting work. It pays to plan ahead.
  • If a large tree needs pruning, lopping or taking down use a tree surgeon who has full insurance.
  • Consider neighbors and  overhangs across roads and public paths.

 

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Dendrology for Gardeners

Dendrology is the the branch of botany and science about trees and other plants that have woody structures. It includes the natural history of trees, species identification, taxonomic classifications and economic significance.

Natural landscapes, forestry, arboreta, horticultural businesses and our gardens are locations that benefit from dendrological study. In the UK there are many parks and urban streets containing trees but the number seems to be diminishing. It is therefore up to gardeners to maintain an interest in growing and caring for trees and woody plants.

Book Cover

A new book to be published in 2019 ‘Dendrology: Cones, Flowers, Fruits and Seeds of Europe’ will provide a comprehensive overview of the morphology of reproductive organs of European woody plants in one resource. Over 355 species of trees and shrubs are to be described including species that originate from North America, Asia, South America, Australia and Africa. At a price of £200 this is not for your average gardener. Better to stick to your own note book costing less than a fiver (above from amazon).

Associated Facts

  • An arboretum is a botanical garden containing living collections of woody plants and is intended at least in part for scientific study. On the other hand a Xylarium is a herbarium containing a collection of wood specimens.
  • The aims of the International Dendrology Society are to promote the study and enjoyment of trees and other woody plants and to protect and conserve rare and endangered plant species worldwide.
  • Silviculture is the  science of controlling forests and woodlands and of forestry management.
  • Dendrochronology is the art and science of tree-rings. Dendroclimatology uses tree-rings and wood density to analyse the that climate was likely to have caused the rings.
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A Trio of Purple Leaves

It is hard to ignore plants with leaves as stunning as these in a Parks garden. The purple is from one of the Sumachs or Rhus family. Selecting plants that contrast in colour shape or form is part of the skill of gardening but starting with plants like these is a good beginning.

Purple is one of my favourite leaf colours of the moment and the Lamium below is called Perilla fructenscens. I am putting several plants in one area of my garden and will see how well they get on with one another.

This Heuchera surprised me growing in a wall cleft with thin soil. I do not remember planting it in what I thought would be a hostile location.

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Tree Peonies from the Far East

tree peony

History of Tree Peonies

The ancient Chinese have cultivated Tree Peonies for over 1500 years. Prized specimens are and were grown for medicinal purposes as they contain glucocides and alkolides. The  imperial palace gardens had many specimens that became quite valuable.

The tree peony was, for a time, the national flower of China and it is thought Chairman Mao sought to ban their growth as a decadent pastime. The root of P suffruicosa has been used in medicine for centuries.

Plants were transported to Japan in the 14th century. The Japanese  bred tree peonies creating over 1200 hybrids some of which are still grown today.

The cult status of Japanese Tree peonies encouraged 18th century plant hunters to import tree peonies in to Europe, particularly France and England. These plant hunters like Veitch, Joseph Rock and Kelway started their own breeding programmes from some of the five wild species and other hybrids.

 

 

The Americans crossed P.lutea (above) and P. delavayi with Japanese hybrids to produce some of the vibrant colours now available. The flowers have a short but colourful life! The shrubs are far more long lived.

Tree peonies have long featured in oriental watercolour paintings. by Zou Yigui (1686–1772). Some of the varieties, like ‘Yao’s Yellow’ and ‘Wei’s Purple’ are  depicted in a series of paintings  mentioned in the Record of the Tree Peonies of Luoyang  Ouyang xiu (1007-1072 CE).

 


Imagine the splendid sight when all the buds open.

 

 

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Primrose Pathway

2018 has been a very good year for Primroses and Primula. The cool, wet spring and occasional bursts of sunshine have played their part.

Reason for Popularity

    • Over many years there have been incremental improvements in breeding and cross pollination of varieties.
    • Gardeners have a wider choice of colour, form and more reliable vigor.
    • Retail has hit the mass market with most supermarkets and many other stores having a primula offering.
    • Cost has been reasonable and it is easy to maintain plants from year to year.

The Primulaceae Family

  1. Primrose is the common name for Primula vulgaris
  2. Primula vulgaris subsp. sibthorpii is the base for coloured primroses mainly in reds and pinks
  3. Cowslip is the common name for Primula veris
  4. Polyanthus, are a cross between  P. vulgaris x P. veris creating multi-coloured strains of longer stemmed flower heads.

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Tree Close Ups

Spring buds bursting into life.

Barking up the wrong tree

 

Patterns from nature inspire painters – is this natural or an artists impression?

Stake out your support for  trees

Limes in Malaga botanic garden lead to a interesting garden

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Veins and a Varicose Pansy

Roses are red Pansies are blue -They’re available in other colours – but what can you do?

Blue Vein Pansy is a character in the Greenskeeper Gathering andgarden dragon game of ‘Flight Rising’ where ‘These flowers fend for themselves, uprooting to seek sunlight, shade, and water as required.’
Would that all plants were so accommodating.

Plants can be segregated into two groups Monocots with parallel veins that begin at the base of the leaf and end at the tip without any branching. The Dicots that includes Pansy have veins that start at the bottom and branch out in an ordered network all over the leaf.

Unlucky Gardeners

  1. The amorous corpuscle loved in vein but gardeners are not vane about the weather and this is a vain attempt at humour!
  2. I had a rock garden but the rocks died
  3. I crossed Poison Ivy with Clover and got a rash of good luck
  4. The CO2 emissions and new weather has led to Global Worming
  5. The forecast for tonight  – Dark

Thanks to pin interest there are lots of Pansy pictures in the same vein.

 

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Bamboo Care and Maintenance

Lawns are cut regularly to encourage side shoots, prevent flowers and to keep the grass tidy. Some attention should also be given to other grasses and bamboos to encourage production of fresher growth at the beginning of the growing season.

bamboo ice

Pruning Bamboo

  • All bamboos look better when scruffy, broken or damaged shoots are removed.
  • Thin out dense thickets to create space for the flexing stems of new shoots.
  • Cut out old canes with sharp loppers or a pruning saw flush to the ground.
  • Thin out other shoots to create a balanced, airy clump.
  • Prune above a node to prevent die back.
  • Weak side shoots and branches often look unattractive and a judicious pruning improves appearance.

Bamboo Care

  • The best time to thin and prune is late spring just before new culms emerge.
  • Don’t be afraid to remove 30% of the culms leaving the freshest one-two year olds.
  • For more growth from dwarf bamboos cut down to soil level in early spring and treat like a hardy perennial to get fresh clean foliage.
  • Instead of under planting you can decorate with stones or round pebbles.
  • Some bamboos are invasive and the tough, springy roots need to be removed or root pruned annually. Plant a barrier at least 18 inches deep around invasive types.
  • Bamboo can be turned into Topiary as the leaves grow more abundantly after pruning and the culm won’t grow
  • Bamboos need to be replaced every 10-15 years
  • Water plants in late spring during a dry spell to help new shoots to develop.

Bamboo

Bamboo in Pots

  • Potted bamboos should never be allowed to dry out even in winter.
  • Because bamboo is tall, it may be susceptible to being blown over so weight the pot accordingly.
  • Bamboos make good subjects for growing in pots. I use terracotta pots as the colour seems to go well with the green leaves.
  • Pots restrict the root run of the plants and they should be trimmed every year.
  • Arundinaria viridistriata ‘Pleioblastus’ or Phyllostachys nigra ‘Black Bambo’o are decorative dwarf bamboos suitable for pot culture.
  • Feed with a high nitrogen feed as bamboos are hungry plants and you are their only source of nourishment.

New Bamboo Boulevard at RHS Harlow Carr

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